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Review: Rebel In The Ranks by Jason Fry

Review: Star Wars: Rebel In The Ranks by Jason Fry (or, The Swimsuit Model Edition)

I have a confession to make: I don’t generally have a high opinion of children’s or young adult books. This is silly for lots of reasons, but maybe now isn’t the right time to go into that. Actually, just briefly: it really doesn’t matter if something you like is high art or not. The only thing that truly matters is whether you like it. At least, this is what I tell myself as I watch the new Thunderbirds series.

I've never been more excited to see a lack of facial expressions in a TV show.

I’ve never been more excited to see a lack of facial expressions in a TV show.

All this is to say that, my expectations often are not very high – but once in a while, I read a children’s book that, maybe in big or small ways, undermines my preconceived notions and very pleasingly surpasses my expectations. This book, “Rebel in the Ranks,” written by Jason Fry, published by Egmont, and second in the Servants of the Empire series, does just that. Wow, that’s a long title! So without further ado, here’s the review. Hey, that rhymed! Aww, I ruined it.

Servants_of_the_Empire-Rebel_in_the_Ranks Continue reading

Always In Motion The Saga Is

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Recently a supposed shooting script for the original Star Wars movie found it’s way into the hands of internet journalists who proclaimed that it was definitive proof of the never ending discussion of who really did shoot first.  Now the discussion surrounding that scene is a column all unto itself, that is not our focus today.  This alleged original script (there are questions surrounding it’s authenticity) shows us in many ways how the saga we all know and love has grown and changed over the years.

When the “news” broke surrounding this script I was immediately skeptical of it’s claims.  First, I know that the film we now know as A New Hope was going through revisions all the way up to and past it’s initial premiere.  I know that during shooting many things changed in the story.  In the original script for example, Obi-wan lived and escaped the Death Star with Luke and Han.  So, I immediately question anyone or anything that cites this as a gospel truth.

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Each film in the saga has undergone numerous changes and revisions.  The original changed so much from it’s inception that Dark Horse Comics published an adaptation of the first draft in 2014.  Entitled The Star Wars, this story included General Luke Skywalker, Deak Starkiller, Jedi bendu knights and a Darth Vader who was not Anakin Skywalker.

Walt Disney once said that “Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”  Star Wars is much the same.

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At last count I’ve owned or purchased the original Star Wars movie 8 times through various formats and edits.  Of those 8 versions I have 5 different official cuts of the film and one fan edit.  That doesn’t cover all the different versions of the movie that have existed throughout it’s history.  I always come back to this when I hear people clamoring for the “original, unaltered” cuts of the original trilogy.  Which version do you mean?  There were at least 3 different cuts of the film in 1977 alone.

While I do not love every single change that has happened over the years, and I continue to be baffled why some things are changed while other scenes are not.  There is little I can do about it.  As much as we want to claim ownership over Star Wars it doesn’t belong to us.  We have no right to tell the creator what to do with his art than we would to tell a painter what and how they should paint.

George Lucas described movie making as “Movies are never finished, only abandoned.”  He was of course paraphrasing Leonardo Da Vinci “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”  Through the changes it remains alive in the heart of it’s creator and through that it remains alive in the hearts of us, the fans.

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Battlefront 3 Footage Released

The Verge has posted five minutes of actual gameplay from Star Wars Battlefront that DICE released at the E3 conference.

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It gives off a very chaotic atmosphere impression, which really makes you feel like your in a war for freedom.  The graphics look fantastic, and it certainly seems to be shaping up as a must with any Star Wars gamers.

Film Icon Christopher Lee Dies at 93

CNN has just reported that Christopher Lee, known to Star Wars fans for his role as Count Dooku, died this week at age 93.  Lee began his film career in horror movies such as Frankenstein and Dracula in the 1950s, and his later roles as Count Dooku and Saruman in Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings brought him into the public eye for good.

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Christopher Lee will be remembered as a film icon, and will be dearly missed.

May God (and the force) be with you Christopher Lee.

Roundup: SDCC 2015 Exclusives and More!

Here’s the toy and merchandise roundup for June 2015 to help you catch up to speed with what you’ve missed in the past month. It compiles the latest major announcements and developments related to Star Wars toys and other products.

New Releases and Announcements

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(Photo: Ryan Kidd)

The Star Wars Rebels Vinylmation set, featuring Chopper and Zeb, went on sale this past weekend at Star Wars Weekends. The product was announced late last month. The Rebels set is limited to 2,500 pieces and will sell for $29.95. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the set is currently only available at Darth Mall in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. The Inquisitor Vinymation will also go on sale on June 12, 2015. If you are looking for someone to pick up a set for you, Vinylmation World recommended C&D Disney Park Shopper.

Also available at Star Wars Weekends is the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Force For Change First Order Stormtrooper pin and shirt.

playmation-star-warsComing October 2015, with the Star Wars portion arriving in April 2016, is a new system that plans to reinvent previous methods of play for the digital generation. Known as Playmation, according to the description, it is “the next step in the evolution of play, where digital gets physical and imagination becomes real. The groundbreaking system of toys and wearables uses smart technology to inspire kids to run around and use their imaginations, as they become the hero or heroine of stories from across The Walt Disney Company.” Click here to view the official announcement trailer.

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(Photo: Yakface.com)

September 4, 2015, is officially known as “Force Friday“, an event where Star Wars: The Force Awakens products–from toys to books and apparel–will go on sale in stores around the world.

“[Fans] will be able to visit their local retailer starting at midnight on September 4, and are encouraged to document their experience using the hashtags #ForceFriday and #MidnightMadness.” Some fans even received an exclusive #ForceFridayCountdown Calendar, recording almost 40 years of Star Wars merchandise from notable brands, such as Kenner and Hasbro.

thinkgeek_han_solo_fridgeThinkGeek has an interesting item on sale: the Han Solo Fridge.

“The Han Solo Fridge really is big: it can hold up to 18 cans of soda. It’s also one of those neato fridges that cools or heats its contents (depending on which temperature you need),” states the official description. “And though the Han Solo Fridge be mighty, it’s still made to travel. It’s even got a handle on top for grabbing, which, let us tell you, is more convenient than carrying a huge block of flippin’ carbonite. Whether it’s blue milk or leftover bantha burgers, the Han Solo Fridge is ready for all your late-night bounty hunting. And by ‘bounty’ we mean ‘snack.'”

For other recent ThinkGeek items, click here.

SDCC 2015 Exclusives

The Hasbro Star Wars panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 will take place on Friday, July 10, 2015, at 12:00pm in Room 7AB. Follow the hashtag  for regular updates. In other news regarding Hasbro, the company has withdrawn from the 2016 Toy Fair UK convention. Read more about this latest development over at Toy World Magazine.

r2droidsjumbo1Gentle Giant Ltd recently announced one of their Star Wars San Diego Comic-Con 2015 exclusive products: the Star Wars: Droids R2-D2 Jumbo Figure. Digitally scanned from a mint 3 ¾-inch Kenner original, the Jumbo Figure was reproduced in 12-inch scale while also maintaining all of the original details.

“In 1985, everyone’s favorite protocol droid and astromech droid starred in their own animated TV series. Star Wars: Droids, featured R2-D2 and C-3PO on their early adventures that took place before Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.”

Read the rest of the announcement over at Yakface.com.

Infrared_Boba_Fett_HikariFunko announced the first batch of SDCC exclusives, including the Hikari: Star Wars – Infrared Boba Fett. Make sure to check back every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until June 29, 2015, for a new batch of exclusives toys. Also, for those attending SDCC, Funko stated, “In an effort to provide more of our products to Con-goers, we are NOT offering a pre-buy option this year.”

The_Black_Series_6_Inch_Force_Awakens_First_Order_Stormtrooper04__scaled_600Rumored to be a SDCC exclusive is the Star Wars: The Black Series 6-inch First Order Stormtrooper from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Jedi Insider provided an exclusive first look at the figure in its brand new packaging.

“We don’t have much in the way of details right now, but this packaging definitely looks to be some kind of special edition version,” wrote Jay Cochran. “We also know it comes with a thick booklet inside entitled ‘Evolution of the Stormtrooper’. Perhaps this figure will first be released as a 2015 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive like we have seen with previous Black Series figures in the past.”

Visit Jedi Insider for a gallery of photos.

Fashion

ThinkGeek has a handful of exclusive Star Wars maxi dress designs, the latest being the Tatooine Sunset Maxi Dress for any fangirl’s summertime wardrobe, “This maxi dress combines the length of a gown with the ease of a t-shirt for a combination that looks good both with a pair of sandals for going to the grocery store or with some spectacular pumps for a nice night out. With tank-top styling, this red blended jersey (50 cotton / 50 polyester) maxi dress has a slit on the right side and a landspeeder in front of two suns printed across the front.”

At ThinkGeek, you’ll also find an exclusive Lightsaber Ladies’ Tee by Her Universe. The shirt features crossed lightsabers in fuchsia and teal on black.

Poprageous recently released a new pair of leggings and a crop top inspired by the lovable BB-8 droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lisa Granshaw writes all about it and other fashionable items by Poprageous over at The Daily Dot.

Interviews and Other News

Although it’s not an interview, The Huffington Post did write an article about Colin Hanks’ experience regarding the lack of Star Wars merchandise for girls. “After being told that the light sabers were ‘in the boys section’, she picks out the light saber of her choosing and asks about the Princess Leia toy. One problem: they only had the ‘slave Leia’ … The only good to come from this is that, once again, my daughter makes me look at the world in a whole new light.”

Ron of MakingStarWars.net interviewed the Funko’s director of marketing, Mark Robben, at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. You can find the interview here.

Tim Veekhoven revisits a classic Star Wars toy in the latest Vintage Vault.

Pre-Orders

sideshow-collectibles-luke-skywalker-02Sideshow Collectibles recently revealed the Star Wars: A New Hope Luke Skywalker Sixth Scale Collectible Figure by Hot Toys.

The description reads, “The movie-accurate collectible figure is specially crafted based on the image of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the film, and features a newly developed head sculpt, specially tailored costume, LED-lighted lightsaber, a hat with goggles, a poncho, detailed accessories and a figure stand. The special edition includes an additional Stormtrooper belt with grappling hook, a communicator, and a blaster rifle.”

sideshow-collectibles-sandtrooper-003Sideshow Collectibles also presented theStar Wars: A New Hope Sandtrooper Sixth Scale Collectible Figure from Hot Toys.

According to the description, “The highly-accurate Sandtrooper collectible figure is specially crafted based on the image of the Squad Leader on Tatooine. The specialized trooper features a meticulously crafted Sandtrooper armor and helmet with signature weathering effects, a highly detailed survival backpack, 3 types of blasters, a Patrol Droid as seen in the Special Edition of the film, and a specially designed desert-themed figure stand.” It’s expected to ship between December 2015 and February 2016.

anovos-star-wars-imperial-trooperThe Star Wars Classic Trilogy Stormtrooper Helmet Accessory is available for pre-order over at ANOVOS. The listing comes with two variants: a do-it-yourself kit for customization, or as a completed helmet that would be ready to wear straight out of the box.

The official description states, “Utilizing the best features of the various helmets made for the Classic Star Wars trilogy, this offering consists of the following features: gloss white PVC construction; distinctive asymmetry, an artifact of the hand-sculpted screen-used pieces created for the original production of 1977’s STAR WARS™ EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, with replicated hand-painted style decoration; flat lenses for optimum visibility; and details matched from existing artifacts.”

Custom Products

Instagram user PrettyFuzzy created a handmade Ahsoka Tano doll using polymer clay. It’s exceptionally well done, and now I wish a young Ahsoka doll was an actual thing for young Star Wars fangirls.